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Soak & Toke

How Stewart Farms Became a Bath Bomb Company

November 16, 2023

In the early days, Tanner Stewart knew his cannabis company, Stewart Farms, would need to be different. The brand needed to latch on to an identity, something that would set them apart in what was becoming a very crowded industry. Stewart often wondered, what’s going to make this company unique? What’s going to make someone choose us over the other guys down the road? In 2019, Stewart visited a LUSH bath bomb retail store in Edmonton during a routine trip to the mall with his family.  Seeing how captivated customers were with LUSH’s vibrant bath bombs, Tanner thought creating his own based on cannabis genetics would make for a good promotional giveaway for his company.

“Really it’s the terpene-rich essential oils that make the difference between cannabis strains like Bubba Kush, Train Wreck or Blue Dream genetics. Why not apply this thinking to bath bombs?” Tanner thought.

Why not apply this thinking to bath bombs?

Tanner realized he needed an herbalist to help his idea come to fruition. After spending a few days painting his vision, he approached an herbalist in Edmonton that promptly turned him down. Although discouraged, Tanner knew this idea was great and wasn’t ready to give up on his concept.

It was only a few days later that he got a Facebook message from a Catrina Jackson from St. Stephen, NB. It was a long introduction as Catrina explained her background working in botanical product development and practicing herbalism since the age of 15 and that she makes all kinds of different creams and products…including bath bombs. A bit taken back by this message that seemed like fate, Tanner quickly replied, “Let’s meet”.

After seeing a news article about Stewart Farms coming to St. Stephen, Catrina thought that reaching out to Tanner would be a good way to see if there were any synergies with what they both were doing. Jackson, an herbalist and product developer herself, had really latched onto the healing qualities of cannabis which seemed to align really well with Stewart’s vision of building a company with a greater purpose.

Growing up in small town St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Catrina’s mother owned Garden by the Sea, a boutique natural product shop that made everything from soaps to massage oils, body butters, and even bath bombs. Garden by the Sea is where Catrina experimented with herbal product development and found her love for aromatherapy.

As a teenager and into her early 20’s she was a regular cannabis user, but when she was pregnant with her first child, she stopped altogether. When she had her second child, he was born with a lot of complications and was really sick. “It was a really scary time for us.” said Jackson. Catrina went on to develop severe post-partum anxiety, she had trouble sleeping, had a super short fuse and overall was not handling life well. On top of this, Catrina had gone back to college and was completely overwhelmed. She had become a shell of her former self.

After going on anti-anxiety medication to treat her post-partum, she started having conversations with her doctor about sleeping pills to help with insomnia, at the same time she had been taking anti-inflammatories for ongoing chronic pain. With the list of prescriptions beginning to add up, Catrina knew she needed to take a pause and explore other options.

“I was only 26 and didn’t want to be heavily medicated, I needed to get myself balanced and realigned.” said Jackson.

I was only 26 and didn't want to be heavily medicated

Seeing his wife struggle, Catrina’s partner suggested cannabis, knowing she had once used it regularly.

Getting back into cannabis proved harder than she remembered. After smoking her first joint in years, she became very anxious and paranoid and overall had a bad time. Knowing she would need to dial it back, she decided to try straight CBD oil. She described her experience feeling like she was curled up into a ball of tension and after consuming the CBD, it all started to melt away. Her shoulders relaxed, she could talk more clearly, and overall felt a tranquillity that had eluded her for so long. It was at that point Catrina knew she would be integrating more CBD into her life.

Slowly building up her tolerance from there, she was able to start consuming dried flower, which had drastically improved her sleeping habits. Now, to this day, her bed time ritual still involves smoking a joint before bed to help her unwind and settle into a good sleep.

After experiencing firsthand how cannabis could be beneficial to ones health, Jackson saw the plant in a new light and began to grow her own on her farm outside of St. Stephen.

“I would process the plants right there in my kitchen and make my own oils, tinctures and topicals.” Said Jackson.

I would process the plants right there in my kitchen

Now with her own supply of cannabinoids, Catrina leveraged her experience working in her mom’s shop and began making infused bath bombs for people to help with aches, pains and to relieve the stress of their jobs and every day life. She also began to develop a customer base for her “green creams” and people began sharing their positive experiences about how their psoriasis had cleared or their carpal tunnel had eased. These “customers” were typically older ladies that didn’t really want to get high off cannabis but were curious about the medicinal benefits and found the topicals to be very approachable. Realizing she didn’t know of anyone making cannabis infused topicals, Catrina knew this would be an interesting and fun new category of cannabis to explore.

Now, back to that meeting between Catrina and Tanner

The two ended up meeting at a local restaurant for lunch to chat (fun fact, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in the restaurant as well, but that’s a story for another day). At this point in her life, Catrina understood aromatherapy and understood essential oils but had not fully grasped or made the connection between these oils and terpenes.

Tanner explained that he wanted Jackson to create products that mimic the aroma profile of different strains of cannabis for use as promotional giveaways. “Truthfully” Jackson said. “I don’t really know if I understand how to do that.” “No no, you do!” Tanner replied and reassured her that if she understood essential oils, she understood terpenes.

This led Catrina into a fury of research, making causal links between the science of terpenes and the existing work she had been doing as an herbalist. For example, the terpene linalool produces a very sedating effect and lavender essential oil is up to 50% linalool, so the reason people find lavender so calming is in part because of its terpene content, the linalool. The more she dug in and began dissecting these different essential oils to learn what was in them, the more she discovered the same terpenes were found in some of her favourite cannabis strains.

Catrina was able to begin breaking down cannabis strains and understanding the percentage of terpenes within them and mimicked these terpene profiles using non-cannabis derived botanicals. Bubba Kush contains terpenes like linalool which is found in lavender oil, beta-caryophyllene which is found in high concentrations of cassia oil, myrcene which is found in mango. These botanicals would serve as the foundation for Stewart Farms Bubba Kush bath bomb.

Catrina’s first project for Stewart Farms was to hand craft 30,000 samples, 10,000 bath bombs, 10,000 soaps and 10,000 teas. All of these products were based on 3 popular cannabis strains—Blue Dream, Bubba Kush and Trainwreck. Jackson chose these strains because she thought their aroma profiles would transfer well into the products. It’s interesting to note that Blue Dream and Bubba Kush are still two of Stewart Farms most popular bath bombs today (Trainwreck got the boot, mainly due to its name).

The initial run of bath bombs was a huge success and after giving them out as gifts at the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John New Brunswick, Catrina found that the beauty of the bath bombs helped break down common cannabis stereotypes, as people didn’t realize that products with THC/CBD could be so beautiful and beneficial to their well-being.

At this point, Catrina wasn’t ready to be done with it all and Stewart agreed to keep her on as a Project Coordinator to help get Stewart Farms off the ground.

Catrina went on to play a big role in the early days of Stewart Farms, not only with her product development skills but operationally as she was able to help build out the team and set up the facility to begin growing cannabis.

These initial months proved challenging for the company and with the need to start bringing in revenue, Tanner gave Catrina the go-ahead to begin production on the first commercial batch of bath bombs. What originally started as a cool giveaway item quickly became Stewart Farms way of keeping the lights on in their facility.

With that, the rest is history. Today, Stewart Farms has the ability to produce over 2800 hand crafted bath bombs every day. They get daily feedback about how these products are helping customers with anxiety, insomnia, skin conditions and other medical issues. At the time of writing this article, Stewart Farms has sold over 420,000 bath bombs across Canada.

In a world where mass production and harmful ingredients are the norm, Stewart Farms continues to make their hand-crafted bath bombs following a few simple rules: no synthetic fragrances, no artificial substances, no alcohols. With Catrina and Tanner continuing to lead a strong team of wellness enthusiasts at Stewart Farms, Canadians can take comfort in knowing that Stewart Farms will be there for them and that bath season is never too far away.